Parnassia in May

We were at the beach before the crowds today.  Actually we were surprised at how quiet it was.  I went for a 5k run and DB sat at a table at Parnassia strandtent as he was recovering from a night with friends in Haarlem.  And his long run will be tomorrow.  Anyway, it was a lovely sunny day in the dunes and at the beach.

I did the usual 5k loop and even in that small distance I saw bunnies (too fast to photograph), 3 groups of highland cattle, 2 groups of wild horses, a shetland pony, lots of furry caterpillars, lots of birds and waterfowl.

I’m sure that tomorrow, Sunday, there will be traffic jams getting to the beach and back.  It’s a lovely place to come hang out or walk around or just sit and read or knit and drink coffee.  But come early or come by bike or train.  But definitely come.

Thankful

This morning I had such a need to go into the dunes and feel the trees around me. The sun was shining and the wind had died down from yesterday’s gales.

It’s been a stressful couple of days. I needed to get out and clear my head and get that peaceful feeling that only the trees and hills can give me.  I’m so thankful for the trees.

I found a new route to take, which turned out to be a fantastic loop, half in an area I’d never run before and half along the favorite well worn path.  Here’s the map of where I went, starting at the hockey fields near Santpoort Zuid, turning left off of the bike path, making my way to Volgelmeer (bird lake).  From the lake back to the hockey fields is the route we normally take.  The first half of the route, through the trees, is where I took the above photo.  As soon as I took the photo my stupid phone DIED, so I was lucky to get that one good shot!

Today I saw the highland cattle, rubbing their shaggy heads on trees.  It felt like Spring outside.  We haven’t really had a winter this year, but it’s still February and a little early to call it over.  The little birds have started to sing, and my rose bushes are starting to put out green shoots, so Spring can’t be far away.

Summer So Far

This has been the best summer weather we’ve had since I moved here 10 years ago.  At least in my opinion it’s the best.  Some people are complaining about the heat, but for me it’s wonderful to be able to actually wear summer clothes!  Normally I get my shorts out of the closet about 5 days per year.  Since the first of July we’ve had mostly sun and heat.

I’ve been biking to the beach a lot these days.  It’s helps that I’m unemployed.  OK, it helps to have the time for fun things, but there’s a definite down side (moola).  (And that is all coming to an end… more news later.)

Here are some sights from my trips around, on the bike and on foot, to the beach and back.

This little frog was seen on a street in Bloemendaal, during an early morning walk/run.

A typical sight here – Mom with a couple of kids, on bikes, going as fast as the kid’s little legs will go.

Parnassia, early Thursday morning.  Pretty quiet.  But it’s early still.

Wild horses hanging out in the noonday sun.  Seems like a hot place to be if you ask me.

Parnassia Friday morning 11:00am.  People streaming down to the beach.  The parking lot is sure to be full by now.

The horses and cattle have moved to the “lake”, now a watering hole for animals in the dunes.  Seems like a good place to be in this heat.

My last free days of summer will see more trips into the dunes, that’s for sure.  It’s been too warm for me to do any running.  These trips on the bike are all early in the morning.  We’re all trying to beat the heat.  And will remember these lovely summer days long into the cold dark winter to come.

Youngins

I had my sporty bike tuned up this past week and have biked to the beach and back twice since then.  The first time I went was this past Wednesday and as I came to the small lake in the middle of our dunes running area I saw that the wild horses had had foals!  In the 5 years that we’ve lived here and I’ve been going into the dunes, I’ve never seen foals or calves.  They were laying down most of the time so it was hard to get a good photo, and I only had my iPhone with me.

Yes, I know, it’s hard to see them in this photo, but trust me, there are 3 foals laying there.  I also took photos of the ever present cattle.

The area around the lake on this day was crowded with animals.  Cattle, horses, bunnies, and all sorts of water fowl.  It was a busy and noisy spot that day!

Today when I biked past there, the cattle and birds were all still there.  There were more geese than ever, fattening up their young for the eventual trip south.  With the weather we’ve been having they are probably wishing they’d stayed in the south and not bothered to come up here!

The horses had moved to a much quieter spot much farther away from the bike route.  I saw them further up the trail, off in the distance.  I hope to see them again before the foals are all full grown.  I have also seen a fawn here in the dunes, which was also very special and hasn’t been repeated since.

By the way, after my fall down the stairs I’m a bit paranoid about falling, in any way.  Yesterday we bought me a bike helmet.  I will probably never need it (god I hope I don’t ever need it), but I feel safer and calmer wearing it.  I really like biking to the beach and through the dunes.  It’s the other crazy people out there that worry me – walking in front of me without warning or those crazy bike racers who think they own the road taking a corner too fast and taking me out with them.  I shudder when I think about it, but I get back on the bike and head out.  We live in a city on a busy street so this is my own chance for quiet and a little bit of nature.  I’ll take it.

 

Winter in the Dunes

Yes, it is still winter here.  I don’t even see buds on the trees in the dunes yet and since there aren’t any bulbs occurring naturally here, there are no little flowers popping up either.  There are, however, lots of interesting tree shapes.

These photos were taken Sunday while DB was running and I was walking in Zuid-Kennermerland National Park, just a short 10 minute drive from our house.  If you continue west through the dunes you end up at the beach, either Bloemendaal or Parnassia.

I saw several trees with bark rubbed or cut off.  How did this happen?  I think either humans or the Highlands Cattle that roam around here did this.  I can’t imagine why a human would have wanted to do this but I can imagine that a bovine with an itchy head and horns would do this.  Or maybe the deer with new antlers.

After about 40 minutes of wandering around, DB came running up.  These photos make it look like we had the whole dunes to ourselves. Not quite.  There were actually a lot of runners on Sunday.  It’s a popular place to walk and run, even on a grey, cold winter day.

Winter Wonderland

This morning DB wanted to go running on soft ground, and given that the ground everywhere was covered in ice and sleety snow, he asked if I would drive him to the beach so he could run there.  My first thought was that I would sit in the warm cafe at Parnassia and drink hot chocolate and knit while he ran (I’m still injured and not running).  After driving through the dunes to Parnassia and seeing how beautiful everything looked covered in a fine dusting of white, I decided instead to go for a walk and take photos.  Of course I hadn’t thought to bring my big camera, but my iPhone takes pretty darned good photos if you ask me.

I didn’t walk very far – about 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back, plus some photography time.  DB and I got back to Parnassia at about the same time.  We got in the car and drove back home.  Once again I’m so happy and grateful that I live only 10 minutes by car from the beach.  How lucky am I?

Here are some more photos from the morning.  The sun is still shining bright and it’s cold and crisp outside.  These are winter days that I love.

On the Road Again

This morning the weather was cold, clear and crisp.  Perfect for running!  We headed to the dunes of Kennemer National Park.  This photo is the start of our tried and true running route.

This was DB’s first run since the Amsterdam half marathon last week.  He set out to run for an hour.  Me? I set out to start all over again.  I did 2 minutes jogging / 1 minute walking.  I intended to do that for 30 minutes.  I ended up doing 40 minutes.  My condition is better than I expected it would be.  My legs felt fine.  BUT, I have a problem still with a big hip muscle I pulled back in June.  I went as far and did as much as I could before that muscle really started to hurt.  Damn.  Always something getting in my way.  My body is never in the shape I want it to be in.  I guess that’s the same for anyone who strives to do more than they can!

I got part way down the path when I came to a large meadow.  Suddenly a big buck with a lovely rack of antlers came bounding out of the trees and ran across the meadow.  Wow!  He was lovely!  And fast.  Far too fast for me to pull my phone out of my pocket and get a photo.  I went on about another half minute, and standing on the side of the trail, like the lost fawn that he was, was junior…

I managed to get this photo as he tentatively crossed the path, heading for dad (I presumed).  He was covered in fawn spots and was sprouting little baby nubs of antlers.  I continued on my way.

At the half way point I took this photo.  The Dutch skies were nice.

On my return I passed the same point I had seen the fawn and he was still there, munching away on some tender green grasses.  Hurry before the grass is all gone and all that’s left is frozen shrub!  He was quite close to the trail but didn’t seem to be too bothered about me.  I took several photos of him.  This is the best one.

This is only the second time I’ve seen deer in the dunes.  I regularly see the wild horses, the Highland cows, the sheep.  One time I saw a fox.  The Netherlands is woefully short of wild spaces and wildlife.  I always feel lucky and privileged to see these scarce animals.

End of Summer

You’d never know that last weekend we had summer-like weather and had to smear on sunscreen all weekend.  Gone.  All gone.  This morning I went to the beach to walk and take photos.  I took my big camera for a change.

I parked at Bloemendaal, where I took the above photo.  You can see that they are starting to tear down the summer restaurants.  Here too, a little further up the beach:

You can see how grey the morning was.  It was windy, but it wasn’t cold.  I walked up the beach to Parnassia.  It was a lot more lively than Bloemendaal, for one reason only….. DOGS!

There were little bitty dogs

Funny dogs:

and really really BIG dogs:

Herds of dogs, such as

6 Golden Labs owned by one family

3 Bernese Mountain dogs owned by one man and his son

2 very large poodle looking dogs owned by one couple

There was the very proud dog owner.  This man was smiling ear to ear with his little dog.  He was busy making movies of the dog fetching a stick.  Ahhhhh.

Eventually I ran out of dog beach and doubled back to head up into the dunes from Parnassia.  I figured, I wasn’t running, I needed the exercise, I already had my camera with me, so go into the dunes and walk to the little lake and see what you find.

The first thing I found was a herd of horses.  These wild horses roam around the dunes, north to south.  I don’t know if they are ever moved around by people or if they belong to anyone besides the National Park (this being Kennemer National Park).  I hadn’t seen them for nearly the whole summer.

And then there were the trees and flowers and grasses of the dunes:

As you can see in the last 2 photos, the sun finally did come out by the end of my walk.  And by the end of my walk I was TIRED!  I had not intended to walk for nearly 2 hours, but once you are that far from your car you have no choice but to walk back.  I often have this problem.  I want to walk farther and farther and I deny to myself that getting back will be long and tiring.  I always make it back though.

When I left the house I was feeling kind of bad because I wasn’t running or biking.  I felt like a lazy slug, taking the car and a camera.  But by the time I had walked all that way through sand and hills, I realized how good it was for me and how well it cleared my head.  And I have the photos as a bonus!

Things to Learn

Yesterday was Sunday and Sundays are always running days at our house.  This is our “long run” day, even if a “long run” consists of only several kilometers.  Sundays are always the longest runs of the week.

Lately I’ve been suffering, shall we say, age related issues.  I have headaches every day.  Hot flashes.  I can’t sleep.  I’m tired and fed up.  I’m always on the verge of a migraine.  I felt like this yesterday and decided that I just wasn’t up to running, no matter how far.  We went to the dunes anyway, DB ran, and I walked and took some photos.  At least I got outside and moved a bit.

I hope you aren’t tired of my dunes and polder photos yet, because here come some more.  I’m still learning about my new camera and trying out things.  One thing I learned is that those birds who sing so sweetly are almost impossible to take photos of.  They are fast and very small.  I started off taking photos of things that were barely moving.

My best tree photo:

My best flower photo:

My best animal photo:

My best bird photo.  Do you know what kind of bird this is?  I don’t.  I was following the sound of a woodpecker, but this doesn’t look like a woodpecker.  Please let me know if you know!

Just when we were about to leave the walking path suddenly there was a rush of sound, hooves pounding the ground and four deer ran across the path behind us.  I tried to get a good photo but they were very fast.  This is the best I could do.  There were two adults and two young ones still with spots on their backs.

They looked just like White Tail Deer that we have in the U.S.  They weren’t as big as Mule Deer and their ears weren’t that big either. Their while tails flicked up when they ran.

And that’s my story of my not-run from yesterday.  I have made a doctor appointment for this week to get my hormone situation sorted out.  I’m hoping for drugs and instant relief.